A special Thursday at the movies

It’s special because I usually do my box office preview tonight, but personal circumstance are forcing a small delay in that, so instead we have some more, if extra brief, news hits right now.

* The sad and shocking death of actress Brittany Murphy has been ruled accidental and is ascribed to a combination of pneumonia and prescription drugs.

* The Playlist points us to the latest on director Michel Gondry, off the set of “The Green Hornet” with Seth Rogen and working on some kind of “secret project” with Bjork, who long ago has sworn off movie making after the infamously difficult shoot of “Dancer in the Dark.”

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* From Nikki Finke: He’s not quite the J.D. Salinger of movie directors, but the very private and selective director with a large cult following and a tendency to take things slowly — very slowly — Terrence Malick¬† (“Badlands,” “The New World“), is keeping busy and working with big stars.

* One of the most buzzed about documentaries at Sundance, “Catfish,” has been purchased. Sounds interesting.

  

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RIP Brittany Murphy (updated)

Reports are circulating that actress and singer Brittany Murphy, best known for roles in films like “Clueless,” “8 Mile,” and “Sin City,” died early this morning from cardiac arrest at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. She was 32 years old.

Of course, the item is already fomenting speculation in the more gossipy realms of the Internet. Danny Groner of the Huffington Post points out that she was recently left the cast of “The Caller” under what definitely appears to be a real cloud and was the subject of an unfunny SNL parody.¬† The Chicago Tribune report I linked to above also mentions “reports” that she might have been fired by her agent. On the other hand, as Nikki Finke points out, she has several other films completed that are currently in post-production.

When someone that young dies of a heart attack, people are naturally going to wonder about possible drug issues, and I’m sure those who follow the gossip sites will be getting their fill of the details in coming days. Quite honestly, this is the kind of post I hate to write. It’s just terribly sad and there’s probably not that much more to be said about it. I hope more comes out of her to-be-released film work than fuel for schadenfreude mongers.

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UPDATE: Nathaniel R. has some thoughts on Brittany Murphy that are worth your time.

  

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